Business briefing

The daily business briefing: March 27, 2017

Kushner to head new White House innovation office, OPEC and non-OPEC ministers agree to consider extending oil output cuts, and more

1

White House innovation office to be led by Kushner

President Trump on Monday is expected to announce the creation of a new White House office charged with using ideas from the business world to reform the federal government. The White House Office of American Innovation, described as a "SWAT team of strategic consultants," will be headed by Jared Kushner, the president's son-in-law and senior adviser, who will report directly to Trump. Kushner will have a staff of former business executives. His team's job will be to bring in fresh thinking to apply to the bureaucracy. "All Americans, regardless of their political views, can recognize that government stagnation has hindered our ability to properly function, often creating widespread congestion and leading to cost overruns and delays," Trump said. "I promised the American people I would produce results, and apply my 'ahead of schedule, under budget' mentality to the government."

2

OPEC and non-OPEC oil ministers agree to consider extending output cuts

A joint committee of OPEC and non-OPEC oil ministers said Sunday that they had agreed to review whether to extend an output reduction pact by six months. An early draft of the statement would have flatly recommended extending the production cuts, and oil-sector analysts said the softening of the language could weigh on oil prices. "The dropping of the recommendation to extend cuts in favor of technical review committee is likely to lead to a lot of disappointment," said Harry Tchilinguirian, head of commodities strategy at BNP Paribas in London.

3

Trump to issue executive order seeking to reverse Obama climate policies

President Donald Trump is expected to issue an executive order on Tuesday reversing many of former President Barack Obama's regulations aiming to fight climate change. The order reportedly will direct federal agencies to identify policies that could hinder the production or use of domestic energy resources, then work toward suspending, revising, or rescinding them unless they are mandated by law. It would cover polices affecting nuclear power as well as domestic production of oil, coal, and natural gas.

4

Trump's health-care loss weighs on stocks

U.S. stock futures fell by 1 percent to a six-week low early Monday, signaling a drop in investors' confidence in President Trump's promise to deliver tax and spending cuts in the wake of his defeat last week over the GOP health-care plan. European stocks also lost ground, with the pan-European STOXX 600 index dropping by 0.8 percent, and the dollar fell, too. "Investors are viewing this setback as a broader loss of faith in the Trump administration's ability to deliver on other campaign pledges — namely tax and spending policies, which have underpinned asset prices since the U.S. elections," said ING currency strategist Viraj Patel.

5

EU tentatively approves Dow-DuPont merger

The European Union announced Monday that it was giving tentative approval to the proposed $140 billion merger of Dow Chemical and DuPont, saying their agreement to divest parts of their businesses would adequately address concerns that the massive deal would hurt competition. The companies plan to combine, then split into three companies focusing on agriculture, material science, and the production and sale of specialty products. EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager said the moves, including the sale of much of DuPont's pesticide business, would make sure the merger "does not reduce price competition for existing pesticides or innovation for safer and better products in the future."

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